Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sex is Worse Than Homicide?

When people talk about sex as though it is a bad thing, I wonder if they are doing it wrong. This blog posting from Baker Associates reveals the absurdity of State of Tennessee laws criminalizing some consensual sex, making felons out of lovers.

Incest is defined in T.C.A. 39-15-302 as follows:

(a) A person commits incest who engages in sexual penetration as defined in § 39-13-501, with a person, knowing the person to be, without regard to legitimacy:

(1) The person's natural parent, child, grandparent, grandchild, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, stepparent, stepchild, adoptive parent, adoptive child; or

(2) The person's brother or sister of the whole or half-blood or by adoption.

Notice age is not specified, so this law applies to consenting adults. Even people who insist (wrongly, of course) consanguinamory should be illegal should see how absurd this law is. Consanguinamory involves eroticism between close biological relatives. But under this law, you could have a young woman, Jennifer, who was raised by her divorced mother, goes off to college, and reconnects with her estranged biological father, who had remarried and adopted his wife’s children. One of those children is a young man, John, who is close in age to Jennifer. Jennifer and John are not biologically related. They were not raised together. They didn’t even meet until they are adults. But it would be illegal for them to have sex! It is not unlikely that some bullying sheriff, prosecutor, social worker, school principal, employer, estate lawyer, or someone else would us that law to make life miserable for some lovers.

The good news for some individuals is that this statute does not apply to cousins. However, the most notable thing about it may be that it is a class C felony punishable by fifteen years in prison, which makes incest a more serious felony than recklessly killing another individual. Thus, the State of Tennessee has decided that it would be far better for an individual to recklessly kill their aunt or uncle rather than engage in sexual activity with them.

Emphasis mine.

This statute is, then, reminiscent of federal child pornography laws which punish an offender more harshly for downloading an image of a naked twelve year-old than it does if the individual actually uses the internet to contact the twelve year-old and actually sleep with them.

Unfortunately, many such inconsistencies and illogical consequences are present in the law today. Incest should not be a crime in an of itself. Prosecute those who force themselves on others, and have enhanced charges for guardians who prey on minors. But stop this insanity of going after consenting adults for loving each other or having recreational sex, or minors close in age who experiment with each other.

There are many other examples of ridiculous laws at all levels of government that try to police someone’s love life, sexuality, or gender identity. This why we need something like the Marriage Equality Amendment.
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